Vixens has learned that the 77 year old man arrested in Belfast this morning is veteran republican Ivor Bell. Bell, who has been living openly in West Belfast for decades, was taken by the PSNI to Antrim Serious Crime Suite for questioning. He has not been charged, but is being questioned in relation to matters surrounding Jean Mc Conville.
Reported to have been the former Chief of Staff of the IRA, and part of an IRA delegation which took part in talks with the British in 1972, Bell has remained an enigma in the folklore of republicanism in Ireland. A quiet man, who has consistently stayed silent on his former life within the republican movement, and in particular his former relationship to Gerry Adams, the arrest of Bell raises a few questions.
Much has been in the public domain in relation to the horrific murder and “disappearance” of Jean Mc Conville. Most of that has been centred around Gerry Adams, former member of the IRA – now a Sinn Féin TD, and whether or not he played a part in ordering Mc Conville’s disappearance, as alleged by his former comrade Brendan Hughes and others. Adams has consistently denied any involvement in Jean Mc Convilles murder, or disappearance. However, given the recent furore over the Boston College tapes, and subsequent handing over to the PSNI, and the public interest involved in the case, public speculation had centred around the potential questioning of Gerry Adams.
Such questioning would appear to be unavoidable, given allegations which are in the public domain. However, Vixens understands that senior detectives in the PSNI have to get clearance before such decisions to question would take place. Whether clearance is given and Adams questioned or not remains to be seen.
Such clearance was given for others to be questioned some weeks ago, however as the ‘On The Run’ coverage gained momentum, senior detectives were ordered to put a hold on any historical arrests until media focus died down. It appears the timing of this arrest was carefully managed. Why?
Anyone involved in the murder and subsequent hidden burial of Jean Mc Conville should be held accountable. There is no suggestion from the PSNI that Bell is either suspected of her murder or disappearance. The arrest is centred around detectives trying to establish whether people can help them with enquires or not.
Ivor Bell is opposed to Adams strategy, and has been since 1985, when he was court martialled by the IRA along with others. One wonders whether it is easier for the PSNI to arrest and question those opposed to Sinn Féin, than to have the man whom public allegations have centred on “help them with their enquiries”…